Tips for a Stunning Life

 

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I can’t take any credit for today’s blog. I got it from my friend Becky, who got it from the Tips for a Stunning Life blog found here:  and used with permission. I love this simple list and hope you’ll choose a couple of these challenges for yourself. Please let me know which are your favorites!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. & while you walk, SMILE. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. When you wake up in the morning, pray to ask God’s
guidance for your purpose, today.
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food
that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, broccoli, and almonds.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Forgive them for everything!
11. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
14. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’
17. Help the needy, Be generous! Be a ‘Giver’ not a ‘Taker’.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. Time heals everything.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed, pray and be thankful for what you accomplished today.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed

Photo by Casey Horner via Unsplash.com

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Target Practice (Written a week ago)

 

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As I write this, I’m on a plane headed to Dallas from Vancouver, BC. This sounds delightful, except for the fact that, when I boarded the plane, it was headed to Austin (as in my hometown). Moments before we were due to land, the captain came on the speaker and said, “Folks, you’ve probably noticed how we’ve been flying around in a circle for a while. There’s a bit of bad weather in Austin right now. We can only circle for about 10 more minutes before we’ll have to reroute.” You could almost feel the hopes and prayers flowing through the cabin as we circled, but the scheduled landing was not to be. ‘Same goes for the Fourth of July evening I thought we’d be spending watching fireworks with our grandchildren. Ditto for the good night’s sleep to make up for our very early departure to the airport this morning.

So, now I get to practice what I preach, to trust that all will be well, to exhibit a joyful God-is-in-control attitude as I await further news and instructions. It helps to look at my blessings here:

  • I am NOT in the tight and non-reclining last row, center seat. (‘Did that last month for a short flight that couldn’t have been short enough.)
  • I still have a good bit left in my water bottle and one more snack bar. (Okay, it’s not a snack bar, it’s a packet of instant oatmeal, but that’s better than nothing if we’re stuck in plane for hours. Maybe Steve has a little bit of chocolate left and will be willing to share.)
  • My phone still has juice, so I can read more of the Eugene Peterson book Steve bought for us on Kindle.
  • I followed the nudge to wear very light clothes, which will come in handy if we sit on the tarmac and the a/c goes weak.
  • Steve is with me, and we are safe.

There’s probably even more hidden blessings here. Some I may notice later. Some I may never know about. But I am here. And I am smiling. And I hope my “misfortune” will be, as you read this, a word of encouragement for you today.

(Photo by Nickas Tidbury via Unsplash.com.)

Get Real

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The April 1 devotional from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling[1] includes this eye opening statement:

“But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world.”

That tough for me. Is it for you?

  • I want my desk to be uncluttered. (And it often is, for about 30 minutes on Monday afternoon, after I’ve cleared the stacks from the weekend but not yet acknowledged the new ones awaiting for the coming week.)
  • I want my calendar to be uncluttered—balanced perfectly between work, rest and play, time alone and time with other people. Planning ahead helps, but…
  • I want my home to be uncluttered, except now I have grandchildren, who have put a whole new positive spin on having stuff strewn all over the place.

So, I’ll have to agree with Sarah that an uncluttered world is a fleeting fantasy. We can’t have it. Or if we have it, we can’t keep it. And if we try, we’ll probably lose a great deal of flexibility and joy.

What’s a body to do? If you’ve read this blog before, you already know my answer. Trust the Lord! Our “keep life tidy” leanings stem from a penchant to control. Once we let God be the one in control (the pilot, not the co-pilot, as my husband is quick to remind me) then a messy life can be an adventure.

Speaking of which, my grandson is on the way over to make my house messier, so I’m keeping this one short. Let me know, if you would be so kind, where in your life you have learned to relinquish the fantasy of the uncluttered and enjoy the adventure!

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

[1] Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling. [S.I.]: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

 

More Time to Be Happy

abraham-abe-lincoln-295315_1280 pixabay 12 14 17Time Magazine’s[1] list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” are right in line with many of the things I believe God would have us do. That list includes:

  • Sleep—an average of 8 hours. Consider this verse from Psalm 127, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
  • Exercise—increasingly considered a standard part of treatment for depression. Remember, life in Bible times was, by its very nature, filled with exercise. Think no cars, plenty of farming and shepherding and chopping wood.
  • Sunshine—which boosts synthesis of mood regulating serotonin, and was certainly a natural part of life long ago.
  • Diet. (A few more ideas about that here.)
  • Standing up straight and smiling—yep, even on down days, smiling seems to help. Perhaps that’s a physical part of the choice to rejoice, as in “Let us rejoice today and be glad!”[2]

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We can’t orchestrate our lives to be free of unhappy circumstances. The Apostle Paul said, though, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”[3] He also said, in that same letter, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”[4]

According to Dennis Charney, dean of the ICAHN School of Medicine, we can train our brains to think a particular way. (So we can teach ourselves to think like Paul!) If we worry all the time, for example, we create a sort of worry rut. The PhD term is a neuronal pathway. Worry, or fear, or plain old grumpiness can become our default. If we choose more positive modes of thinking, of responding to difficulty, we can create new and better brain ruts, so to speak. But we have to work at making those changes. Something called “mindfulness” is a good place to start, and that’s exactly where we’ll start next week.

 

 

 

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

[2] Psalm 118: 24b

[3] Philippians 4:12

[4] Philippians 4:4

Shrek the Sheep

 

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You’ve probably seen the movies, may even have read the book, but have you heard about the sheep? Yes, Shrek is also the name of a famous sheep…on the other side of the world…New Zealand, to be exact, where the sheep population outnumbers the humans six to one.

We can safely assume that New Zealand shepherds are far smarter than their sheep. Thus, their sheep are best off cooperating with the one in charge. However, in the late 1990’s, Shrek the Renegade Sheep thought he had a better idea. Shrek decided he no longer wanted to be shorn. This was a foolish decision on the part of the renegade.

  • Long fleece can lead to overheating, limited mobility, and even disease.
  • Shearing also keeps older dirty wool from contaminating new growth.

Evidently none of that mattered to Shrek or, more likely, he simply wanted his own way and didn’t know any better. Big mistake! Want to know how big? Take a look at this photo. This is Shrek after hiding in caves, successfully avoiding six years of annual shearing.

Now, I ask you, does that look like a happy, healthy animal? When he was finally caught and shorn, the wool removed weight 60 pounds, enough to make 20 large men’s suits. Talk about carrying around extra baggage!

Are we ever Shrek-like? You bet.

  • When the Shepherd is ready to remove what we no longer need, or might even do us harm, how often do we balk, hide, or refuse to our own detriment?
  • When have we tried to hold on to what keeps us from healthy spiritual growth?

Surely we are always better off trusting the wisdom of our Shepherd, fully cooperating with the One in charge.

The next time I’m tempted to balk at what God is asking, I’m going to remember Shrek the Renegade, no make that, Miserable Looking Sheep and choose the Shepherd’s way over my own.

 

 

Questions from a Traveler

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Spring of 2017 brought great adventure. Steve and I left home for weeks, enjoying the world, our “kids”, each other…and taking time to re-think how the next season of our lives should look. Here are four questions I’ve found myself asking as I reflect back on the experience:

What is home? For ten weeks, I rarely slept in the Houston house that I call home. Furthermore, we’ll be moving from that address before the summer ends. Even though I am a homebody, I’ve been able to remain sane. I’m finally learning that particular walls and windows aren’t that important. When I have Steve with me, work to do, and a quiet place to pray, I can settle in. (Okay, having a kitchen helps, too.) Maybe home isn’t where the heart is, but where the Lord is. And since he’s everywhere, he can make us feel at home wherever he sends us.

How much stuff do we really need? I’m usually limited to one small suitcase and a backpack when we travel. I pile what I want to take on our bed, then start putting things back until I have a collection of items that will actually fit. When I’m finished packing, I’m always amazed at how much is still on my shelves and in my closet (and in the whole house, for that matter.) I rarely miss any of those items when I’m gone. This will be an important lesson to remember as we decide what goes with us to our next home. Furthermore, it’s time for me to think twice about how much time and money I ever need to spend adding to my belongings. There’s generally a better place to allocate those resources.

Do we keep the Story before us? I’ve spent countless hours in art museums lately. Many are chock full of tremendous paintings and sculptures that tell the story of Christ—his birth, his death, his resurrection. Each one evokes in me a moment of worship, of thanksgiving. But we can’t spend all our days in art museums. We need to be about the business of living—at the office, at home, in the car, out on errands. Even on those days, we need to keep the Story before us. As we attempt to keep our minds on Christ, art—perhaps in the form of music, pictures, or printed Bible verses—can help.

Do we grasp that Story with elation? I was in Germany on Easter Sunday. At 10:50 a church bell began to peal. Another joined it, then another. Soon the whole city seemed to be exploding in melodious proclamation. “He is risen!” I imagined the elation of the disciples as they shouted the discovery to one another. I need to recapture that elation every day.

On the easy days, on the hard days, the truth remains: He Lives! We have a good reason to rejoice!